The Chicago Botanic Garden is a serene and wondrous place. As a family, my husband and I spent the day before my father’s 85th birthday walking the outdoor gardens there with my father and our daughter and her boyfriend. We had a beautiful day exploring, bonding, reflecting, pondering and reminiscing. The perfect wind down after the exhilaration of a big family party the evening before.
It was fascinating seeing the fruit and vegetable, Japanese, English and Waterfall Gardens, as well as watching each person in our party studying the various floras. The weather was just cool enough for a light jacket; the wind consistently fierce but gentle, a wonder unto itself. Surprising for late October, many of the leaves on the trees were still green, while the maples blared with mostly unfallen color.
I had the best time shooting photographs, a therapy and an art explored more enthusiastically since my head injury–a new and more manageable way of reading, a sort of devolution from text to image…a simple and yet complex matter of what lights up in the brain. A way to harness my heart and imagination–an exploration of shape, pattern, color, depth and texture. I wonder how many painters begin as photographers, or vice versa? The connection, if any, between image and musical score? While exploring, I read of something Japanese garden designers of the Edo period (1600-1868) referred to as “borrowed scenery,” which was said to be inspired by inkwash landscape paintings, where they created gardens of distant views that included both garden and vista incorporated into one scene, an expanse one might liken to that of a painting.
Although we had to push my father in a wheelchair, since he’s no longer able to walk a mile on his own, everyone was happy throughout the four mile trek. I easily reached my step goal for the day, but most importantly, we had valuable time together and even to ourselves. I kept thinking how happy I felt after all I have been through, despite the static of so many other unhappy people. Throughout the day I was amazed by the poignant fact that a person can feel peace and such joy after enduring seemingly insuperable losses. I remember the moments it didn’t feel I could survive, and yet I had somehow found my way back to my own core; it seemed astonishing to be right there, experiencing this at last. I felt connected to my loved ones, yet utterly individual and separate from them, alone in my own marvel at it all, knowing the palpable reality of our own human vulnerability.
This is Day 20 in the 31 Day Writing Challenge, 31 Days of Breaking Free from Fatigue
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